The 9-night roundtrip departs Dubai on November 16th, 2023, with prices starting at US$7,200 per person sharing an inside cabin, while the 33-night cruise to Cape Town departs November 25th, with prices starting at US$15,000.
Silversea Cruises follows an annual tradition set by several other luxury cruise lines, such as Oceania and Azamara, which also usually sail a roundtrip Dubai cruise during the winter season, followed by a grand voyage to either Asia or Africa.
On the Dubai roundtrip departing November 16th, Silver Spirit will visit 7 ports in 5 countries, packing is every one of the usual Arabian Gulf cruise destinations.
“Leave Dubai’s luxury for an overnight in Doha’s fascinating tapestry of interwoven extravagance and tradition,” says Silversea. “Al Manamah and Dammam are next, then enjoy another overnight, this time in Abu Dhabi.”
“The off the beaten track ports of Ras Al Khaimah and Khasab complete this sun-kissed voyage,” it adds.
Unusually for cruises of this kind, Silver Spirit doesn’t stay overnight in Dubai on either the first or last night of the cruise, meaning that a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay will be necessary for fly-cruise tourists wanting to explore the city.
Dubai is the primary cruise port and tourist destination of the region, a gleaming modern city in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula, and one of the seven key cities and emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
It’s home to the 830-metre high Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, which sits next to the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall in the world, and between the two are the Dubai Fountains, where water dances in a blur of colour and haze.
Up the Sheikh Zayed highway is Mall of the Emirates, home to the Ski Dubai indoor ski slope, while down by the Dubai World Trade Centre visitors will find the museum of the future, a new landmark that stands testament to the ambition of Dubai and the wider UAE.
Silversea is all about luxury and its shore excursions in Dubai reflect that, with guided exploration of some of the city’s best boutiques and the finest precious metals at the historic Gold Souq on the Creek, or visits to white-sand beaches at some of the best beach resorts in the world.
Founded in the 1820s, Doha has also grown from its pearl-diving and fishing roots into a sprawling metropolis. There are shopping malls, gleaming skyscrapers and mosques studded with intricate carvings, as well as historic old souqs that keep the city grounded by its heritage.
Here visitors can pick out handfuls of fresh dates and nuts, or try saloona at local restaurants. The dish is a heavily spiced and perfumed broth of lamb or chicken and soft aubergine, and because it’s believed to have Bedouin origins, its claimed by many of the Gulf countries.
Doha’s four-mile seafront Corniche is a popular photo spot, set against the vibrant colours of the Arabian Gulf and the skyline of the city. The palm-tree-lined boulevard culminates in the spectacular Museum of Islamic Art, which stands proudly like a giant, glinting sandcastle.
Al Manama, the capital of the island nation of Bahrain is next, where visitors can find vestiges of the 16th-century trade route port amid the steel and glass skyscrapers that line the streets of the busy financial district.
Al Manama was first mentioned in Islamic chronicles in 1345, but is a recent addition to the tourist trail, with few cruise ships calling annually compared to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat or even Doha. This is most apparent in the enormous Bab el-Bahrain Souq, which offers everything from jewellery to carpets and is predominantly frequented by locals.
For culture enthusiasts there is the Al Fateh Mosque, able to accommodate 7,000 worshipers at a time across its immense marble floors and beneath the high glass chandeliers. The Bahrain National Museum is just a stone’s throw from the Mosque and houses an impressive collection of culture, customs and history.
Dammam in Saudi Arabia is another new addition to the cruise tourism route, with Saudi Arabia having only recently opened itself up to cruise ships. The Heritage Village, a beautiful five story building, introduces Saudi food, culture, traditions and lifestyle. The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture also houses several museums, a cinema, library, theatre and exhibition halls.
The next port of call is Abu Dhabi, where passengers will discover a burgeoning cultural scene at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the under-construction Guggenheim. A highlight is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is the UAE’s largest and most revered religious space, while beachgoers will find a plethora of coastal resorts with pristine beaches on coral-blue seas.
After the bustling capital of the UAE, Silver Spirit sails for Ras Al Khaimah, the most northern of the emirates, known for its slower pace, sun-soaked beaches and rich culture.
The region has been inhabited continually for the last 7,000 years due in part to its strategic location on the Musandam Peninsula, a story told by the National Museum housed in the “Late Fort” which was built in the early 18th century using blocks of fossilised coral.
Al Jazirah Al Hamra, an intact traditional pearling village abandoned since the mid-20th century, may also be of interest, while those seeking adventure can head out into the desert by 4×4 vehicle, visit camel and date farms or see the city from the gulf on a traditional dhow.
The sleepy fishing town of Khasab is the final port call of this roundtrip cruise. Known as the Norway of Arabia because of the spectacular fjords that cut and shape the Musandam Peninsular, Khasab is a popular port for boarding dhows that take guests out into the bay for dolphin and whale watching.
On land, passengers can also visit Khasab Castle, which was built in the 17th century by the Portuguese to defend the opening to the Strait of Hormuz, which remains a contentious and strategic waterway to this day. There are also shore excursions to Bedouin villages and the viewpoint at Khawr Najd – where sweeping views of the flayed fjords unveil themselves.
The cruise ends in Dubai on November 25th, with Silver Spirit undertaking a quick turnaround to depart that same night for a 33-night grand voyage to South Africa. Silver Spirit weaves her way east to India, for the iconic vibrancy and history of Mumbai, then criss-crosses the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles, Zanzibar, Madagascar, and the fascinating history of Richard’s Bay.
The cruise ends in Cape Town, which sits at the foot of the iconic Table Mountain on the Cape of Good Hope, which has lifted the spirits of countless seafarers for centuries after a long ocean voyage. This 33-night cruise includes 15 port calls, including four overnights in Mumbai, Zanzibar, Richard’s Bay and Cape Town.